SIHH 2011: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph
At SIHH 2011, Audemars Piguets unveiled three new versions within their iconic Royal Oak Offshore collection. The new design is more understated than the audacious Royal Oak Offshore Grand Prix, which was unveiled this time last year. The new Royal Oak Offshore Chronographs use flat pushers, like those on the famous Ruben Barrichello ROO timepiece.
Three new versions are available, one is stainless steel, one in forged carbon and one in pink gold - all have a hard black ceramic bezel. The Offshore collection now has a sapphire exhibition caseback, like the Jarno Trulli ROO (hopefully the sapphire caseback will become a standard feature). This allows the wearer to easily admire the beautifully hand finished 3126 in-house AP chronograph movement, including the signature partially skeletonized rotor.
The Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph is a classic sports timepiece, and the 44 mm is the standard diameter of the case, but subtle details create a more modern look; and the exhibition caseback, flat pushers and great color schemes make for a really appealing look.
Audemars Piguet Press Release
"Three new timepieces are joining the prestigious lineage of Royal Oak Offshore chronographs. Case size, design elements and the choice of materials represent a number of subtle touches that are forging a new path on which control meets strength. These timepieces that have now become a significant part of the collection are indeed distinguished by a perfect balance of forces. The collection's signature codes are all there, since one simply cannot modify the identity of a legendary collection, the quintessential sports watch combining audacity and performance. The horological substance is also there, housed within a mechanical selfwinding movement with exceptional finishing representing the pinnacle of watchmaking hand craftsmanship.
The case: outsized perfection
Historically, the Royal Oak Offshore is the largest of the large. Disproportionate? Gigantic? When it was first introduced in 1992, some even went so far as to claim it was an insult to good taste. It proved to be a pioneer! Its design echoed the vigorous shape of the Royal Oak, the famous octagon that in 1972 had shaken up the peaceful scene of classic round watches. But 20 years later, the Royal Oak Offshore was even sturdier and more masculine. It set the trend for large-sized watches that has continued ever since. Today, the Royal Oak Offshore collection is reaffirming its supremacy, since the case of the new threesome measures a full 44 millimetres.
In each of the three versions, the case is composed of two materials. Ceramics is associated with steel for the first, with forged carbon in the second, and with pink gold for the third. Forged carbon is a material borrowed from the field of aeronautics and which the Manufacture Audemars Piguet was the first to introduce into the world of fine watchmaking. The choice of ceramics for the bezel - the part most exposed to shocks and thus to scratches - is due to its extreme resistance and hardness. The level of finishing applied to this material deserves a mention, because although this material is currently much in favour in the watch industry, rarely is it finished with such meticulous care. Diamond-coated grinding wheels remove hundredths of a millimetre layers of material in order to achieve the same fine details one can achieve, but the process requires a large number of operations that are far more delicate and time-consuming.
The contrasting materials serve to underscore the stature of the 44 millimetre case middles. With their surface featuring a vertical satin-brushed finish and their polished chamfers, the ceramic bezels accentuate the strong character of the octagonal shape, which is punctuated by its eight polished steel hexagonal screws in keeping with the signature codes of the collection. It is instantly recognizable, repeatedly imitated, but as yet unequalled!
The right-hand side of the watch has been the object of particular care. The pushpiece-guards are not part of the case, but are instead composed of two separate parts secured to the case by four visible screws. The pushpieces are composed of two parts: a base and a top that serves as a contact surface. The construction is thus highly complex and calls for a large number of operations, especially since the parts feature a wide variety of finishes. The pushpiece-guards are beadblasted and satin-brushed, while the pushpieces are beadblasted and feature a satin-brushed and polished top. These models thus involve far more than just a change of size. The entire aesthetic of the case has been reworked. The clear-cut edges define a chronograph with taut, sculptured lines radiating self-assurance, efficiency and extreme technical sophistication.
The dial: a pure, modern look
The dials adopt an extremely understated style. Nothing is purely decorative, and everything has been designed to enhance their readability. They feature facetted hands in white or pink gold and are coated with a luminescent substance. The contrasting colours mainly aim to facilitate legibility: a silver-toned dial and bezel with black counters and anthracite hour-markers for the steel version; and a black dial and flange with silver-toned counters and pink gold hour-markers for the pink gold version. On the forged carbon model dominated by black tones, the hour-markers are highlighted in the luminescent green colour typical of measuring instruments. The chronograph indications are distinguished by the red accents of the chronograph counter hands and the central sweep seconds hand. Each of the dials carries the collection's trademark "Méga Tapisserie" motif, while the grooved black rubber strap also complies with the original identity codes.
The movement: mechanical splendour
Turning over the watch enables one to gaze through its transparent back to admire its beating heart. Developed on the basis of Audemars Piguet Calibre 3120, the 3126/3840 movement is distinguished by its extreme reliability. Its cross-through balance-bridge ensures improved shock-resistance, while its rating remains stable thanks to a variable-inertia balance fitted with eight inertia-blocks. Moreover, Calibre 3126/3840 provides excellent user-friendliness, particularly due to the instant-jump and fast-adjusted date mechanism, along with a 60-hour power reserve and a stop seconds device when setting the time.
One also notes the refined cutting out and meticulous craftsmanship lavished on this calibre may be admired through the sapphire crystal case-back. Hand-assembled and decorated in the Le Brassus workshops, this movement boasts an exceptional level of execution and finishing. Arranged in an elegantly harmonious manner, the bridges are carefully bevelled and polished so as to reveal only clean-cut edges. The jewel sinks are diamond-polished, and the wheels feature bevelled spokes and diamond-polished countersinks. Even the rim and lots of the screws are bevelled. The mainplate is circular-grained on both sides and the bridges are adorned with Côtes de Genève.
Finally, the newly developed oscillating weight is crafted all of a piece from a block of 22-carat gold and is coated with an anthracite galvanic treatment in harmony with the sporting and technical spirit of the collection. The AP emblem is surrounded by two bevel-finished."
Case, pushpiece-guards, fastening studs and pin buckle in stainless steel; bezel, crown and pushpieces in black ceramics.
Case in forged carbon; bezel, crown and pushpieces in black ceramics; pushpiece-guards, fastening studs and pin buckle in titanium
Case, pushpiece-guards fastening studs and pin buckle in 18-carat pink gold; bezel, crown and pushpieces in black ceramics.
Retail $28,100 (Stainless Steel), $31,000 (Forged Carbon), $52,100 (Rose Gold)